The series takes its starting point from a 17-volume book set, Library of Photography, published in 1970-1972 by Time-Life Books. Matt Lipps has selected, cut out and assembled almost 500 figures, unfolding a visual roadmap of 40 years of American picture taking. Using collage strategies, sculptural tropes, theater staging and complex still-life, Library pays tribute to and requiem for the analog medium while posing new questions about the future of digital media and imaging.
For each cut out image, Lipps builds an individual cardboard structure so each can stand on its own and become an autonomous, moveable ‘actor.’ He then arranges and lights his cutout figures, re-photographs them and subsequently prints the images larger than the original reproductions, creating scale-shifts that reflect on the very operation of photography. The resulting photographs create complex spatial relationships between the black & white appropriated images and color field backdrops that Lipps has drawn from his own “vintage” 35mm negatives. The compositions mimic bookshelves as they assemble iconographic, instructional, and vernacular photographs across a multi-tiered yet level field like different chapters from the same book.
The inspiration, Library of Photography, is a multi-authored publication issued in the US and abroad. Its first volume, The Camera, proclaimed the universal presence of the instrument in the lives of its readers and the ubiquity of photographic practice. From amateur to professional, the message was that anyone could learn to make good photographs by subscribing to the book series and learning from the examples. The seventeen volumes delivered a comprehensive how-to manual on everything photographic – from techniques and genres, to the conservation of photographs – each illustrated with hundreds of exquisite black and white gravure reproductions.
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